Pygmy Possum Project

Breeding Crash

The estimated breeding rate as shown by the number of juveniles directly observed crashed in the severe drought/heat wave year of 2018 and has only recovered in 0ne of the three sites after several months of rainfall sufficiency end-2018 to start of 2019 (followed by two very dry months and one wet month). Recruitment of new members to the population to replace the high EPP death rate due to predation and other causes would be insufficient to prevent a population decline as the cohorts age.

Number of Juveniles observed in nest boxes at population change monitoring sites by year and location of monitoring site:

Year Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden CUS Warrimoo Oval Bushland CUS Acron Oval CUS Duffys Forest Pony Club Mallee Heath Total
2017 4 2 0 4 10
2018 0 1 0 0 1
2019 0 0 0 3 3

EPP breeding rates may revive somewhat if this prolonged period of insufficient rainfall breaks by autumn next year, otherwise there will be insufficient survivors from the 2017 breding event to procreate leading to an adult population crash.

METHODOLOGY:

On the 25 October 2015, I organised a Pygmy Possum Nest Box Working Bee to reorganise the 6 nest boxes already deployed to 2 known EPP-occurrence areas to act as population change monitoring sites::

  • Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden - 3 nest boxes were deployed in a lateral transect of a core CUS area
  • Warrimoo Oval bushland - 3 nest boxes were deployed in a vertical transect across the edge of the CUS.

This working bee was led by me and advertised. The only participants were myself, a local friend, and a volunteer from the Manly Vale Mermaid Pool Landcare group who was most helpful with me taking up GPS locations for my sites. No KMC volunteers or staff attended. I had earlier given a talk area to the Landcare Group at Mermaid Pool.

Fortunately, on the 13 March 2016, I was joined by a KMC volunteer and a representative from WIRES North Shore for a follow-on Pygmy Possum Nest Box installation for field volunteers for some new nest boxes that I picked up from a Northern Beaches